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14-man UCC come from 6 points down to win Fitzgibbon Cup final against IT Carlow

Shane Conway was man-of-the-match in UCC’s win.

UCC players celebrate their Fitzgibbon Cup victory.
UCC players celebrate their Fitzgibbon Cup victory.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

UCC 0-18
IT Carlow 2-11

REIGNING CHAMPIONS UCC staged a superb second-half comeback to claim a dramatic Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup final success tonight over IT Carlow.

Having conceded two early goals, UCC trailed by four at the interval and were six down early in the second half. They were then reduced to 14 men when defender Niall O’Leary was shown a red card in the last quarter but finished in powerful fashion with Darragh Fitzgibbon and man-of-the-match Shane Conway sending them two points clear.

Kerry forward Conway was excellent in front of goal while Shane Kingston also impressed.

DJ Carey’s Carlow outfit came hunting for that equalising score at the death after Laois goalkeeper Enda Rowland’s thundering shot from a short-range free was deflected over the bar.

They had one last attempt at the posts when Jerry Kelly stood over a sideline from out near midfield in the dying moments of the game. It was from roughly the same position where UCC defender Mark Coleman scored his match-winning sideline in their dramatic semi-final win over DCU on Saturday.

But the good fortune didn’t come Casey’s way as his shot trailed well wide of the target to the chorus of cheers from the UCC contingent at the final whistle.

IT Carlow made a blistering start to the final, rattling off two goals in the opening seven minutes to follow on from their five-goal showing against Mary I in the semi-final.

Casey was first up as he stormed through to raise the green flag before Liam Blanchfield followed his example to push the Carlow challengers into 2-1 to 0-2 lead.

michael-harney-and-robbie-flynn Robbie O'Flynn in action for UCC. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

But UCC overcame the shock quickly to outscore their opponents by 0-4 to 0-1 over the next 15 minutes, with Conway and Shane Kingston leading the resurgence.

Carlow grew gradually wasteful with their shot selection, but two long-range frees from Casey and goalkeeper Rowland ensured they had a 2-5 to 0-7 lead at half-time.

Two quickfire points from Stephen Bergin and Chris Nolan pushed their advantage out to six points in the early stages of the second half before Casey traded scores with UCC’s Conway and substitute Neil Montgomery.

Another lively exchange of scores followed over the subsequent 10 minutes. Fitzgibbon got the first of his two vital points to cut the gap to two while Casey and Nolan kept Carlow’s scoreline ticking over at the other end.

shane-kingston-and-shane-reck Shane Kingston on the ball. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Nolan’s brilliant score on the run had Carlow still leading by 5 after 45 minutes, but they would only manage one more point in the final quarter through Rowland’s deflected free, as UCC began their march back to the Fitzgibbon summit.

Conway, who was superb throughout, was instrumental for UCC in completing the comeback. He hit six more points to push the champions in front for the first time in the game, while Fitzgibbon’s second point helped them build a two-point cushion with time running out.

They suffered a huge blow during this spell when defender Niall O’Leary was dismissed with a red card. But the numerical disadvantage only served to galvanise UCC as continued to press for victory.

Carlow came agonisingly close to forcing extra-time, but Kelly failed to direct his sideline between the posts as UCC celebrated their 40th Fitzgibbon title. 

Scorers for UCC: Shane Conway (0-9, 7f), Shane Kingston (0-4), Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-2), Mark Kehoe, Neil Montgomery and Paddy O’Loughlin (0-1 each).

Scorers for IT Carlow: Seamus Casey (1-4, 4f), Chris Nolan (0-3), Enda Rowland (0-2, 2f), Stephen Bergin and Jerry Kelly (0-1 each).

UCC

1. Shane Hurley (St Finbarr’s/Cork)
2.David Lowney (Clonakilty/Cork)
34. Robert Downey (Glen Rovers/Cork)
4. David Griffin (Carrigaline/Cork)

7. Niall O’Leary (Castleyons/Cork)

5. Mark Coleman (Blarney, Cork)
6. Paddy O’Loughlin (Kilmallock, Limerick)
18. Killian O’Dwyer (Killenaule,Tipperary)

19. Paddy Cadell (JK Brackens, Tipperary)
17. Darragh Fitzgibbon (Charleville, Cork)

10. Robbie O’Flynn (Erin’s Own, Cork)
11. Conor Boylan (Na Piarsaigh, Limerick)
12. Shane Conway (Lixnaw, Kerry)

14. Shane Kingston (Douglas, Cork)
15. Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelin-Kilcash, Tipperary)

Subs:

27. Neil Montgomery (Abbeyside, Waterford) for O’Flynn (32)
13. Michael O’Halloran (Blackrock/Cork) for Kehoe (36)
20. Bill Sheehan (Dicksboro/Kilkenny) for Boylan (52)

IT Carlow

1. Enda Rowland (Abbeyleix, Laois)

2. Shane Reck (Oylegate Glenbrien, Wexford)
3. Sean Downey (Ballinakill, Laois)
4. Fergal Hayes (Kiladangan, Tipperary)

5. Podge Delaney (The Harps, Laois)
6. Jason Cleere (Bennettsbridge, Kilkenny)
30. Jerry Kelly (Borris-Ileigh, Tipperary)

8. Richie Leahy (Rower Inistioge, Kilkenny)
9. Luke Scanlon (James Stephens, Kilkenny)

10. Michael Harney (Bunmahon/Waterford)
11. Cathal Dunbar (Naomh Éanna, Wexford)
12. Stephen Bergin, (Clough/Ballacolla, Laois)

13. Chris Nolan (Mount Leinster Rangers, Carlow)
14. Liam Blanchfield (Bennettsbridge, Kilkenny)
15. Seamus Casey (Olyegate Glenbrien, Wexford)

Subs:

19. Rory Higgins (Rathnure/Wexford) for Blanchfield (25 mins)

Referee: James Owens (Wexford)

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About the author:

Sinead Farrell  / reports from DCU Sportsground

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